Song: Lost and Found
Artist: Katie Herzig, Fort Collins, CO
Album: The Waking Sleep, 2011
Notes: A fitting beginning for our Top 100 rewind of the best lost songs of all time. First spun on 'L&F' five years ago, it was finally discovered by someone with decent ears, using in the promos to 2013's Disney movie 'Saving Mr. Banks'. Herzig is an indie-folk songstress, one of dozens of first-rate non-country musicians based in Nashville. Also a dab hand on the banjo, she's released five fab albums over a decade-long career, all of them worth a visit. More at katieherzig.com.
Song: Let The Light In
Artist: Bob Schneider, Austin, TX
Album: A Perfect Day, 2011
Notes: Such a strong melody and brilliant lyrical imagery, cleverly and evocatively using characters from 'The Wizard of Oz' to tell his tale of unexpected new love from a classy singer-songwriter who has been plugging away creating top-notch, erudite melodious fare for a long time. A local musical hero in his home town, where he's won no less than 24 trophies at the city's annual Music Awards since being named Musician of the Year in 1999. His 12th studio album, 'Burden Of Proof,' also worth a gander. (Most of his live shows are recorded and then made available to his audience on their way out.) Check out his wonderful website, bobschneider.com, with news about his newest collection 'King Kong Vol. II'.
Artist: Cherry Ghost, England
Album: Herd Runners, 2014
Notes: Radiant but noirish melodic pop with stellar strings from an indie rock combo who took their name from the Wilco song 'Theologians'. Firmly built around the talents of a former Maths teacher, Simon Aldred, who's from the northern English town of Bolton (their debut single was called 'Mathematics'). One of the band's most popular cuts is 'People Help The People', which gave Birdy her first hit in Europe. Aldred also released a synth-pop solo album a couple of years ago under the moniker Out Cold called 'Invasion Of Love', which is also worth a sniff. More at cherryghost.co.uk.
Song: Please Forgive My Heart
Artist: Bobby Womack, Cleveland, OH
Notes: Gone just over a year ago at the age of 70, the guitarist, singer-songwriter was one of the most authentic 'testifying' soul vocalists to emerge in the 1960s, his beseeching, gravel-filled baritone subsequently earning him the nickname The Preacher and latterly as the self-described Soul Survivor, having outlived his gospel-trained testifying contemporaries, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. This longplayer was his first new work in 18 years, featuring a cool duet with Lana Del Rey and was co-produced by the always busy Damon Albarn of Gorillaz and Blur fame. It's long forgotten that he penned 'It's All Over Now', which gave The Rolling Stones their first British chart topper in 1964.
Song: Warm Whispers
Artist: Missy Higgins, Australia
Album: On A Clear Night, 2007
Notes: Expect chills at the unexpected percussive magic 1:20 seconds into this diamond, a fabulously crafted recording can be found on Missy's sophomore album from 2007. In addition to being one of Australia's best singer-songwriters in her own right, she is also a strident animal rights and environment campaigner, a top vegan and became a mother to Samuel Arrow Lee earlier this year. More at missyhiggins.com.
Song: Dead Hearts
Artist: Stars, Canada
Album: The Five Ghosts, 2010
Notes: Every carefully crafted stanza of this remarkable song is so mellifluous, so eloquent and so inviting. The group, based in Montreal, was founded by Torquil Campbell, Chris Seligman and Amy Millan. They've cut six albums since 2001 - all rather fascinating and worthwhile. They opened for Coldplay on some Canadian dates in 2008, and also went down a treat at the 2013 Coachella festival. Campbell has a tendency to be outspoken and has claimed his country's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has 'destroyed a country, raped an environment, lied to his people, and played shitty Elton John covers'. More at youarestars.com.
Song: If I Could
Artist: Blue Merle, Nashville, TN
Album: Burning In The Sun, 2005
Notes: Bitter-sweet, literate Americana from the short-lived band led by Luke Reynolds, whose vocal style is a bit like a high-country-tinged Chris Martin. The group was regrettably only around for three years between 2003 and 2006, formed by the way-talented Reynolds in Nashville. They only released a smattering of quality EPs and one complete album which was stuffed with similar bluegrass-laced lost gems. Reynolds has done quite a bit of session work for the likes of Brett Dennen and Bela Fleck over the intervening years - and he joined that fab combo Guster as a multi-instrumentalist in 2010.
Artist: Nina Simone, Tryon, NC
Album: Baltimore, 1978
Notes: A remarkable reggae-tinged, soulful interpretation of Randy Newman's 'Baltimore' from an extraordinary album of the same name from the High Priestess of Soul, born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in 1933. There's a rather good documentary floating around Netflix at the moment called 'What Happened, Miss Simone?' in which she say, 'Sometimes I sound like gravel, and sometimes I sound like coffee and cream.' Sadly, it also reveals the abuse suffered by her daughter Lisa under her demanding mother. It's been a decade since Nina passed away after battling breast cancer, but her remarkable talent lives on.
Song: I Won't Let You Go
Artist: James Morrison, England
Album: The Awakening, 2011
Notes: A gritty soul-filled vocal talent, reminiscent of many of the R&B icons which influenced him growing up, the blue-eyed soul bliss of a singer-songwriter James Catchpole who chooses to use his middle name as a surname when performing, and who looks like Chris Martin and sings like Sam Cooke. A song written for his longtime partner, Gil, it was a top 5 hit in Europe and a highlight from the English singer-songwriter's third album. Criminally he's yet to score any hits on the Billboard Hot 100 despite releasing three fabulous long-players. He's also cut some fine duets with the likes of Jason Mraz and Nelly Furtado. More at jamesmorrisonmusic.com.
Artist: Black Dub, Canada/US
Album: Black Dub, 2010
Notes: A spare, atmospheric original Americana groove, rolling along so sweetly by a combo assembled in 2009 by top producer, Daniel Lanois - who is of course one of U2's longtime producers and also helmed a couple of albums for Dylan. (He has also been behind the desk for the likes of Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, Dashboard Confessional and Peter Gabriel.) He put out the occasional solo album since 1989 before assembling this quartet, which also features Trixie Whitley, daughter of the late blues-rock singer Chris Whitley, Daryl Johnston and Brian Blades.
Song: Annie You Save Me
Artist: Graffiti6, England
Album: Colours, 2010
Notes: Back on the very first 'L&F' in February 2011 a track by the then new British duo was spun - it took radio at large a year to play catch-up, though even then they never discovered this nugget, which is clearly their strongest to date. An electronica/pop/rock duo from the UK comprising Tommy Danvers and Jamie Scott, they've previously worked behind the scenes with the likes of Alicia Keys, Jay Z and KT Tunstall. They got together in 2008 and released their debut album on their own N.W. Free Music label two years later. Capitol then signed the pair and re-packaged the album last year. More at Graffiti6.com.
Song: Long Journey
Artist: Sarah Jarosz, Wimberley, TX
Album: Song Up In Her Head, 2009
Notes: Still just 24 years old which belies the maturity evident in all her work, Sarah wrote and recorded this lost pearl in her senior year of high school. She took up the mandolin at the tender age of 10 before then becoming proficient on the banjo (she's already well-known in bluegrass circles). Her debut album picked up a Grammy nomination for Best Country Instrumental Performance, since when she has released 'Follow Me Down' in 2011 and 'Build Me Up From Bones' in 2013. She recently teamed up with Sara Watkins and Aoife O'Donovan as the I'm With Her collective. They're on the road this summer, while Jarosz is also playing a series of Prairie Home Companion dates. More at sarahjarosz.com.
Song: Love Is Always Seventeen
Artist: David Gates, Tulsa, OK
Notes: The exquisitely winsome country-laced vocal honey of David Gates with a tender lovelorn stroll around the defining years of a normal life on this A+ ballad. It's an extremely rare recording, the original version of a song he subsequently re-recorded for his 'Songbook' compilation that was the title cut of a long-deleted CD from 1994 - and which sadly remains his last complete studio album. Astonishingly he made his first recording in 1957 at the age of just 17, a single called 'Jo-Baby' which he wrote about his high school sweetheart Jo Rita who then became his wife. One of the finest romantic singer-songwriters of any era, now 74 and mostly retired though he occasionally emerges for gigs, he was, of course, the former lead singer and moving force behind Bread. Astonishing, and disgraceful, to think that the writer of 'Guitar Man', 'If', 'Make It With You', 'Everything I Own', 'Diary', 'Baby I'm A Want You' has still not been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Artist: Natalie Imbruglia, Australia
Album: Counting Down The Days, 2005
Notes: It goes without saying that this note-perfect pop percolator failed to trouble the Billboard Hot 100. The telegenic Australian, daughter of a Sicilian father, turned 40 this year and has been long based in England. She started off as a teen actress but moved across to a career in music in the mid-'90s - best known over here for her global smash, 'Torn'. She was named the sixth most naturally beautiful woman of all time in a poll of fashion/beauty experts in 2004 - heading the list? There was only one possibility: Audrey Hepburn - and when she passed away, class, dignity and style died with her.
Song: One Day Like This
Artist: Elbow, England
Album: The Seldom Seen Kid, 2008
Notes: Perhaps their finest moment - and there have been many - by British rockers who started out 22 years ago as five teenagers from the north-western English town of Ramsbottom playing around the pubs of Manchester. They have released six sterling studio albums from 2001's 'Asleep In The Back' to their most recent, last year's 'The Take Off And Landing Of Everything'. They've still got a relatively paltry following here and never had a hit in the States, and other than being briefly heard in the movie trailer for the Robert Downey/Jamie Foxx film 'The Soloist' this tumultuous track did very little. They've won a Mercury Music Prize, a BRIT Award and two Ivor Novello Awards back home and their spiritual leader Guy Garvey has a fine weekly radio show on BBC Radio6. More at elbow.co.uk.
Song: I'd Be An Angel
Artist: Randy Crawford, Macon, GA
Notes: The angelic soulful jazz/R&B stylings of the wonderful Miss Crawford with a lost soul ruby released to almost universal silence in 1998. She has been knocking it out of the park for more than 30 years and has never got the mainstream success she richly deserves. She's recorded with dozens of top artists including the iconic jazz combo the Crusaders, Quincy Jones, Al Jarreau; even Steve Hackett from Genesis. Her last three albums have all been recorded with Joe Sample but nothing solo from her since 2001. More at facebook.com/randycrawfordofficial.
Artist: Federico Aubele, Argentina
Album: Gran Hotel Buenos Aires,
Notes: Flamenco, accordion, reggae beats, and a cool female vocal make up this magical stew from Federico Aubele. He's Argentinian, but now lives in Brooklyn, and has released five fascinating, really worthwhile albums. This track was produced by uber-hip American electronica whiz-kids, Thievery Corporation, and features his wife, the lovely Natalia Clavier, on vocals. He describes his music-making thus: 'It's an intimate process for me, and I need to respect that intimacy. I can't work If I have people around, talking. For a lot of people, making music is a social experience, and that's fine, but it doesn't work like that for me. The social part for me comes afterwards, when I'm on stage performing with my band, in front of a crowd'. More at federicoaubele.com.
Song: Ghost In The Machine
Artist: The Fire & The Sea, Los Angeles, CA/Miami, FL
Notes: The close-harmony class and soul-searching of L&F alumni Kyler England and Adrianne Gonzalez, who united as a duo a couple of years ago. They initially got together in 2008 as part of the quartet The Rescues, becoming known for their song 'My Heart Is With You', which was featured in 'Pretty Little Liars' and a couple of years ago England had a successful collaboration with DJ Tiesto on the track 'Take Me'. Gonzalez also joined up with Garrison Starr to form the duo The Silent War, touring with The Weepies earlier this year. More at thefireandthesea.com and thesilentwarmusic.com.
Song: River of Tears
Artist: Eric Clapton, England
Album: Pilgrim, 1998
Notes: In three more days I'll leave this town and disappear without a trace. A year from now maybe settle down where no one knows my face. I wish that I could hold you one more time to ease the pain, but my time's run out and I got to go, got to run away again. Too sad for words - a morose masterpiece from Eric Clapton with a track from perhaps his most complete and rewarding album, the astonishing 'Pilgrim' - which got terrible reviews when it first came out. He admitted in his autobiography that with 'Pilgrim' he actually set out to write and record, quote, 'the saddest album' he could. Well he succeeded, and this mighty seven-minute weepy its most confessional and mournful achievement.
Song: Mama Sail To Me
Artist: Amos Lee, Philadelphia, PA
Album: As The Crow Flies [EP], 2012
Notes: A typically restrained, poised and rewarding standout track from the eclectic singer-songwriter's third EP, featuring six songs recorded during the 'Mission Bell' sessions but not included on that album. An entrancing mid-tempo ballad with beautiful gospel backing vocals and produced by Calexico's Joey Burns, he gets better with each release. One of the best folk, blues and soul stylists getting it done every year now divides his time between homes in his native Philadelphia and San Francisco. He's just played two dates at the Hollywood Bowl with David Gray and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. More at amoslee.com.